President Rodrigo Duterte has delivered a death blow to the peaceful means of putting an end to the communist insurgency by writing finis to peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the leftist Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army /National Democratic Front Philippines (CPP/NPA/NDFP).
By Roger Balanza
President Duterte signed Proclamation 360 on November 23, declaring the termination of talks with the communists.
The President also ordered the cancellation of scheduled talks and meetings with the triumvirate, behind the longest communist insurgency in Asia, and the monkey that has been for five decades riding on the back of the country to stall its march to peace and progress and subjecting Filipinos to unbearable violence and mayhem.
President Duterte has now realized that there is no more logic, nor rhyme or reason, in farther talking peace while the CPP/NPA/NDFP combine continues its atrocities in the countryside.
The fact is that the latest government announcement of termination of the peace talk is like a broken record repeated time and again sparked by atrocities of the NPA carried out even as the peace negotiations are ongoing. This insincerity has become the hallmark of the CPP/NPA/NDFP attitude towards the peace talk.
Attempts by five presidents – Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino – in three decades to reach a resolution to the insurgency problem have gone nowhere.
In the midst of the off-and-on talks, the NPA continued its offensives against government forces, its extortion, imposition of revolutionary tax and violence against the civilian populace.
What triggered Duterte’s latest move to terminate the talks?
Early this month, NPA rebels ambushed a police patrol car in Bukidnon, killing two police officers. There was a collateral damage: the rebels also sprayed with high-powered firearms a private vehicle following the police car, killing a 4-month old infant and wounding two women passengers.
The latest atrocity by the communists that involved the killing of an infant, so badly hurt the President that he warned to declare the CPP/NPA/NDFP as a terrorist group.
Not contented with that, he subsequently delivered the coup de gras by terminating peace talks with the CPP, the umbrella of leftists organizations in the country, its political arm NDF, and its armed wing the NPA.
The government, under President Duterte, has stretched its patience to reach a political settlement with the rebels, by resuming the peace negotiations. In a confidence-building move, he sought the release of incarcerated NDFP consultants for them to participate in the peace talks; he also appointed leftists linked to NDFP to his Cabinet.
The peace negotiation under President Duterte was supposed to be in its final dash to clinching an agreement but the continuing rebel atrocities aborted the holding of the 5th Round of Talks, the last round that would have tackled two remaining issues before the final peace agreement is signed.
It is now very apparent that NDFP, at the forefront of the peace negotiations, is not serious about seeing an end to the conflict.
The military, citing the NPA attacks in the midst of the negotiations, says that the CPP/NDFP had no control over its ground troops and that the NPA attacks are unilateral actions without orders from the CPP/NDFP.
This is crap and we don’t subscribe to this military position.
Like government soldiers who follow their commander-in-chief, the President, NPA fighters obey orders under the chain of command headed by the NDFP.
The fact is that the atrocities by the NPA are all ordered by the NDFP, which is using the NPA to gain leverage and concessions in the peace negotiations.
We believe that the NDFP, represented in the talks by CPP founder, Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni and NDFP chairman Fidel Agcaoili are the monkeys who should be blamed if the talks failed.
It is unfair that some quarters blame solely the NPA fighters who are mere foot soldiers following orders of the NDFP and the Joma mafia.
We believe that the NPA fighters, immersed as they are to the woes and problems of the populace, are nationalistic and serious in seeing an end to the fighting, unlike the CPP/NDFP mafia headed by Joma who has been living in exile in the Netherlands for three decades now.
After years of fighting government, NPA fighters by now have already realized that they are being abused by the NDFP cabal living off in high style abroad with money from NPA rebel extortion and revolutionary tax fleeced from hapless Pinoys.
It is said that solving the Philippine insurgency is a long, rough and winding road, but my God, this road should at least lead to somewhere, but not to nowhere.
I am sure this is not lost to the NPA fighters; that fighting the government is a big gamble without an end. If I may venture, after years of being used and abused, the rebel fighters could be prepping up now for another kind of rebellion, against the CPP/NDFP combine.
The government, and the NPA, should now agree that there are available options to end the insurgency other than talking with the NDFP and the Joma clique.
Which should bring us to the suggestion that since talks with the NDFP have gone nowhere, the Philippine government should adopt a paradigm shift in tackling the insurgency problem and should instead completely abandon negotiations with the CPP/NDFP mafia and deal directly with the NPA.
It is now high time that the NPA strike its own destiny, break the umbilical cord that ties it to the CPP/NDFP and accept government overtures on a localized peace talks.
NDFP, of course will oppose this, as it has described localized peace talks as a divide and rule strategy of the government.
After years of endless fighting, we are confident that the NPA has now realized that it has been used and abused by the NDFP, and the government should go for the guttural, divide the CPP/NPA/NDFP and rule the direction of the peace negotiation by talking directly with the NPA without the meddling CPP/NDFP.
There is a simple formula to the scenario of a GRP-NPA Peace Talk replacing the GRP-CPP/NPA/NDFP peace negotiation.
Government and the NPA could adopt all the agreements made during the previous rounds of talks under the GRP-CPP/NPA/NDFP peace negotiation.
The GRP-CPP/NPA/NDF talk was supposed to resume to discuss two remaining contentious points: the Declaration of a Bilateral Ceasefire and the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).
These two issues can easily be resolved in the GRP-NPA Peace Talks.
Following that, the NPA rebels, protected by Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), will simply lay down their armaments, and discuss the CASER that primarily addresses pro-poor issues and economic reforms long demanded from government by the communists.
What are the scenarios after the NPA strikes a peace deal with government? Limitless opportunities.No more NDF mafia riding on its back and no more fighting with government troops.
With the GRP-NPA Peace Agreement in place, the NPA rebels, back to the mainstream of society, can now live just like any Pinoy, no longer combatants, working and living peacefully for the good of the country.
In Davao City, for example where presidential daughter Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is strongly pushing for localized peace talks, the NPA, while still under the baton of the Joma mafia, opposed entry of investors in its declared red areas in the city’s agriculture-rich hinterland districts.
Certainly, with the local insurgency resolved, investors would be lured to pump money into the once rebel-infested districts.
Having gained all the rights of Filipino citizens under the GRP-NPA agreement, erstwhile NPA fighters of the First Pulang Bagani Command in Davao City’s Paquibato district, the epicenter of the Davao Region’s communist insurgency, could play the role of businessmen, form an NPA business corporation, and by special accommodation, provide security and manpower services to a Malaysian company who wants to develop thousands of hectares of the hinterland district into palm plantations or the large export Cavendish banana corporations that had for long salivated at venturing in the once rebel-infested mountain areas.
In the gold-rich Caraga Region and Compostela Valley province, rather than extort from illegal miners, the eleven NPA fronts there could hatch up corporate partnerships with lumads in legal mining in ancestral domains.
Or their small NPA corporations could haggle a license from government to undertake small scale mining.
In the urban centers, the security guards in malls and the waiters and waitresses serving you in restaurants, could be former members of the dreaded Sparrow Unit, the liquidation squad of the NPA, given a new lease in life by the GRP-NPA localized peace agreement.
Reports have it that other Local Government Units (LGUs) with insurgency woes are following in the footstep of Duterte-Carpio and are initiating talks with the NPA for localized talks.
And what about the NDFP’s Joma mafia and their retinue of consultants who used to live high abroad from dirty money sent them by the NPA?
They will now be begging for alms from NDF-International to sustain their expensive lifestyle!